Monthly Archives: June 2013

I have lost the method of finding Google’s profile of what it thinks I am. Also, there may be the odd reader here who doesn’t know a thing about me, so I will tell you what Google thinks about me:

Formerly, Google used to be under the impression that I was a heterosexual male between 18-24 who liked science, body modification, computer hardware, gaming, all instruments, and classical music.

Up until very recently, the ads alongside my Facebook, and the ads I saw period, were for smoking accessories, various kinds of substance abuse rehabilitation, criminal defense lawyers, bassoonist/organist/oboist associations, and made-to-measure suits.


Now I’ve got to sigh, for Google has surely lost it. Now my ads are for plus-sized dresses and blouses, nursing programs, and diplomas at very shady local colleges for things like “therapy”. My Facebook ads are more plus-sized clothing, weight loss, christian dating…

What happened? I do not feel as though I have changed. How does someone start out as a  tech-literate, pipe-smoking, impeccably dressed male junkie bassoonist/oboist/organist/violinist, and morph into a plus-sized christian woman trying to change careers to a soft-skills, helping profession, and find a loving, traditional man?

As a teetotaler whose suit size is 34 Short, I’m as likely to want plus-sized dresses as I am to want a DUI lawyer. Verily, the internet has developed a strange picture of me. Perhaps it is because of my interest in feminist causes? In that case, good job, internet, assuming I need plus-sized clothing. That was sarcasm, internet.


Addendum: By no means do I wish to knock plus-sized clothing (I am aware that there are very limited options for larger women, and approve of manufacturers who make styles in all sizes) or nursing (nurses are awesome).


I went onto EASE, which is the University of Edinburgh’s online student system, and there was a big brightly-coloured button telling me I could activate my student email (oooOOOH!) and so I clicked it, and it prompted me for my university ID and password, and I entered it, and waited in anticipation to be taken to an unfamiliar interface the likes of which I have not seen before, and it took me to my Queen’s email. Confused, I clicked it again, and not surprisingly, it did exactly the same thing. Then I logged out of email, clicked it again, and then got taken to the exact same window, but University of Edinburgh instead of Queen’s. It was disappointing. I was hoping for the adventure of a shiny new email client, but it is exactly the same as Queen’s, down to the colour scheme. Huh. email is underwhelming. I suppose the adventure comes later, like when I actually get on and off the airplane.

There’s been a thing floating around the anglophile blog circuit about some Welsh-themed pub in New York being fined for saying they wanted a British bartender.

“Energetic and enthusiastic men and women with an appreciation of craft beer, good food, whisky and real football (aka soccer),” the advert said. “Being British definitely works in your favor.”

Personally, I think the ad would have been fine if they left out the part hinting about being British. Apparently they do actually have americans on their staff, too. Wanting somebody who is culturally competent really isn’t too much to ask, it would probably kill their business if people came in wanting to feel a certain kind of “at home” and found the barkeep not knowing one silly scarf pattern from another.

“The attorney for HRC countered that I could train someone in Welsh and British culture, a notion that is not only absurd but insulting to Welsh people and Brits everywhere.”

I’m just going to sit here and laugh at the idea of someone being “trained” in a culture.

Aside: One episode of Life on Mars involved some guy in a pub being murdered, and he was wearing an atrociously ugly orange and white striped scarf, and the Guv saw it and said “Well, we have a motive right here”, and I nodded along and thought “that is one fucking ugly scarf”, and then wondered at when the Guv became fashion-conscious. Soccer teams then became a plot point. I suppose before I raise my eyebrows at people murdering over it, I should consider the fate of someone wearing a Leafs jersey walking into an establishment in Montreal. (Merciless mockery!)

I had to complete this rather involved form through Queen’s for my exchange, it’s basically for their high-risk activity stuff, and all activities involving undergraduates not being in Canada are considered high-risk. However, it is fairly clear that an awful lot of their safety stuff is a bit beyond what I’ll be doing – I am of a nationality towards which most others have neutral or pleasant relations, and I am travelling to a safe city in a safe country to which I also have citizenship. Side note on that, the form required me to state what kind of citizenship I was travelling under (UK), except for that UK wasn’t an option, and I had to choose between England, Scotland, and Wales, which is stupid because that’s not how citizenship works. I am not remotely Welsh or Scottish, so given where actual family members come from, I had to say I was…hrrrrk…English (there was an involuntary full-body shudder of the type that usually happens when I try to drink orange juice). Now I feel like a dirty imposter. There was no place in the form for comments, so I couldn’t correct their weird mistake or write “I’M CANADIAN, IF I LIE MAY I BE SUBJECTED TO PANCAKES WITHOUT SYRUP”. Of course if I lied and wasn’t Canadian, I might not care about the lack of syrup, but I can’t imagine pancakes being properly enjoyed without it. (I’m going to suppress early memories of young me happily eating pancakes with granulated sugar piled high) DAMN IT, DO YOU SEE THE HORROR I LIVE WITH?

The rest was short slides with stupid true/false quiz questions like “The academic culture of your host institution will always be similar to that of Queen’s University”, “If you are travelling to a country, you may be required to obtain a visa”, “Many travelers spend more money than they intended”, and “I will always have access to ABMs while abroad”. Sheesh. But it was mostly stuff like “be prepared for different standards of living”, and “cultures are not better or worse, just different”. I objected to that last bit. I don’t think for a second that all cultures are ethically equal, and they did mean better or worse in that sense. Overall, the whole thing seemed to be aimed at people who are traveling to less modernized areas, or places where there is a huge cultural gap.

They did talk a lot about homesickness, which will be relevant in my case. They also talked about culture shock, and reverse culture shock upon re-entry. It’s really hard to know how much I’ll be culture-shocked. It’s easy to read some brief summaries about the differences in culture between the UK and here, and think that as an incredibly socially awkward, reserved person who has a weird, dry sense of humour, and avoids physical contact and outward sentimentality, I’ll be fine. However, I have also read many accounts of Canadians going to England or elsewhere in the UK and not expecting culture-shock, and then being culture-shocked. That said, from their examples of what particularly surprised them, I’m coming from a place of more knowledge. Even so, I should expect some degree of it. After all, I am extremely ill-traveled. On the other hand again, I have a mind like a sponge, and tend to adapt to things fairly quickly.

Here’s some things international students at Queen’s have said about Canadians:

Canadians Smile a lot and are very friendly

Accept differences and are truly multicultural

Require at least 14 inches of personal space

Always think they are busy

Are so polite it is hard to know what they really mean or really think

Are time keepers and rule followers

Live in a beautiful and clean country

Don’t like to be mistaken for American

Talk a lot and interrupt other people

Finish our sentences even though it’s not what we meant

Avoid disagreement or argument

Jealously guard personal space

Stick together and speak English

Ask lots of questions to fill up the silence

They talk a lot about their own abilities and accomplishments

Expect others to make choices (i.e. “Do you want to go to the movie?”)

Bolded for being particularly true. Though the one about living in a beautiful, clean country made me proud. Another funny one was a quote from a different section that was about how a Canadian will invite you into their home and be extremely hospitable and friendly, while cheerfully insulting and inflicting mild cruelty on their own family members.

I feel the need to make a post about the name “Edinburgh” and how much it irritates me. If I didn’t know better, I’d pronounce the last syllable like “burger” minus the “er”. I’ve mostly heard “Edinburrow” and “Ed-in-burra” from other Canadians. However, I have had the correct pronunciation drilled into me by, well, here’s an excerpt from the essay that I got an acceptance with:

“…, and had me repeat “Edinburgh” an uncountable number of times until I could say it to his satisfaction.”

You know who you are. Look at the beginning of the excerpt, implies a laundry list of offences, yeah? (Make all the faces and noises you like, you may never know). Incidentally, said individual seems to also have hilariously lost the ability to say “Edinburgh” properly upon getting me to say it properly, indicating that there may be some principle of conservation operating here. The irritating thing is that I am the only Canadian I know who says it like that, and it’s really annoying, because I get this weird feeling that I’m faking an accent whenever I say it. I cannot win, because if I said “Ed-in-burg” on principle, I’d be saying it wrong. Bah. Though I was vindicated, some person introducing a University of Edinburgh video said it close to the way I do, so I don’t suppose that I’ll go there and people will give me weird looks for the way I said that one particular word. The other annoying thing is that my mom has taken to trying to copy me, and keeps saying “Edinburrrr”. Deleting that one syllable to make “Edinbruh” seems to just be a problem for Canadians. It also was slightly tricky for me to make my mouth do that last sound “properly”. Incidentally, the “bruh” in Edinbruh is supposed to be the same vowel that goes in “foot”, but that is damn tiring. That’s what comes from learning “Edinburgh” from someone who says “strut” with the same vowel used in “foot”, I still haven’t stopped feeling pretentious about it. The trick to feeling less ridiculous is changing the final vowel to a lazier one, because I have a theory that Canadian English has basically evolved for great speed with minimum effort. 

It occurs to me that once I’m there I won’t have to say it as much. Hooray! The way to stop saying “Edinburgh” might be to go there, who knew.

I could start a business being tech help for musicians, or do classes. Here are the subjects we could talk about:

– scanned music score databases are your friend (how to use them)

– IE/Safari should not be used

– your printer/scanner can also photocopy things for you

– the little dot above your laptop screen is a webcam

– do not click the pop-up windows saying you won